Today, we have something a bit different here on the blog. Stuart Reid is an author but he has a very different target audience to the writers we usually feature here. I think you’ll all enjoy what he has to say.
Wow! My first guest blog – this is so exciting for me. I jumped on this fantastic opportunity when I read about it on the website elementaryvwatson.com and I thought ‘Great, I love Sherlock Holmes’ and I signed up immediately. Or rather, Victoria signed me up but at that stage, I don’t think either of us had looked at each other’s work.
So I thought I’d better do some research. The first of Victoria’s posts that I read was entitled ‘A Woman’s Right to Choose’, a hard-hitting piece about terminating pregnancies. Then I read her review for a book about Auschwitz, then about some serious illnesses and suddenly I felt very out of my depth.
You see, I write about bums. And bogies. And pretty much anything else that makes eight year old boys wet themselves with laughter (which, unfortunately, I’ve seen happen). I’m currently touring Scotland, presenting my first book ‘Gorgeous George and the Giant Geriatric Generator’ to primary school pupils and it’s fitting that I’ve leapt into a guest blog spot without looking because that sums up my life so far.
Upon leaving school I wanted to become a sports journalist. To be paid to watch football would’ve been a dream come true for me but for some bizarre reason I studied business management instead.
My first job was selling fine wines and spirits. I was pretty good at it and I was promoted. Then my boss said “you’re good at that job too”, so I got promotion again. And so my career went on like that for twenty years, with me wearing suits and ties every day, which I believe stifled my creativity by cutting off the blood supply to my brain.
I ended up as a general manager of a 300 bedroom hotel in Dubai; living the rich expat life with a big car, bigger house and swimming pool until I woke up one morning and decided that I wasn’t enjoying myself. I realised that old people regret the things they didn’t do in life, far more than the things they did so I handed my notice in and returned to Scotland to become a full-time writer and presenter.
My wife asked why I couldn’t have a normal mid-life crisis like any other man, and just buy a sports car or motorbike, or get a tattoo done. But oh no, I had to write about poo, pee and pumps!
I was lucky enough to find a publisher who loved ‘Gorgeous George…’ immediately and the book was put into print in the autumn last year. It’s now stocked in the wholesalers Gardner’s and Bertram’s, as well as every Waterstones store in Scotland and moving south. Although sales are still only in the four figures, the next print run will see us move up to the next milestone.
And having taken two years to write the first book in the series, my publishers, My Little Big Town, expected Book 2 to be completed before Christmas. Of course, I wanted to play the part of the tortured and troubled artistic genius so I deliberately didn’t finish the 48,000 words until February. Book 3 began immediately and so far I’m halfway there. I’ve even woken up in a moment of madness and wrote the first chapter for Book 4 in the ‘Gorgeous George…’ series so hopefully my little red-headed character and his mad Grandpa Jock will run and run.
I wrote the books to inspire children, especially boys, to read more often. Girls seem to naturally love reading but with boys, it often needs something different, and probably yucky, to grab and hold their attention. I regressed back to my childhood and had a lot of fun writing about what made me laugh.
However it’s not just about an array of bodily functions, noises and smells. I like to include some more serious themes amongst the mess. Recycling, alternative energy, healthy eating and conservation are all thrown into the mix as I encourage children to consider their diet, lifestyle and the world around them. Maybe I am maturing after all.
Nah, I love shouting “BUMS!” in front of two hundred giggling school children too much to ever want to grow up again.
So, although on the surface yucky and disgusting, the main thrust of my presentations to these eager young minds would be; love life, love the planet and love reading.
And if we can all have a good laugh whilst we’re doing it, then even better.
Thanks Victoria, for the blog swop. And if anyone is coming along to the London Book Festival on 16-18th April 2012, feel free to pop along to stand A620 in the children’s section. I’ll be the guy in the kilt, on a scooter and picking my nose.